A Year after Disappointment, City of Indianapolis Awarded 2012 Super Bowl
ATLANTA, Ga. – For the city of Indianapolis, the wait was worth it.
And the news that came just before 2:45 p.m. Tuesday more than made more than a year's worth of effort from an owner, a team, a town and a community pay off:
Because as of Tuesday afternoon, Indianapolis is a Super Bowl town.
Indianapolis, which last May narrowly lost a bid to host the 2011 Super Bowl, on Tuesday afternoon was awarded Super Bowl XLVI, scheduled to be played February 5, 2012. The announcement came at the Spring 2008 NFL Owners Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta.
"Obviously, we couldn't be more excited about bringing the Super Bowl to Indianapolis," Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay said minutes after the announcement. "It's been a long process. There are many people to thank – many people making big efforts."
The game will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the retractable-roof, state-of-the-art facility that is scheduled to open in downtown Indianapolis this August.
"They did a terrific job, the community, of putting together an outstanding bid," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "All of the bids were outstanding, but you could see the quality of this bid and the enthusiasm of the community.
"Clearly, the quality of the stadium and the public-private partnership was a big factor in many of the owners' minds. They just did a terrific of putting together a bid that will serve the NFL very well and hopefully serve the Indianapolis community very well."
Irsay, speaking Monday night, described himself as a "nervous optimist" despite a general feeling among observers that Indianapolis was the favorite this year after losing last year's bid, 17-15, to a North Texas group led by Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones.
Tuesday's balloting was as difficult and emotional as Irsay anticipated.
The city of Indianapolis' bid committee, led by bid committee president Mark Miles, made its presentation at 1 p.m., with the two other bidding cities – Phoenix and Houston – following immediately.
The owners awarded the game to Indianapolis on the fourth ballot, first eliminating Houston, then awarding it to Indianapolis in a majority vote over Phoenix.
"This is a big moment for Indianapolis," Miles said, "and one that really comes after a 25-year process. I think back to 1984, when Jim (and the Colts) moved to town and we first got acquainted. I think about what the city was like then."
Irsay said Indianapolis agreed to leave two dates – February 5 and 12, 2012 – open for the Super Bowl to allow for schedule expansion or other possible factors, flexibility he said was "very powerful" and "unprecedented" in the bid process. Also key, Miles said, was $25 million worth of suppledged by Indianapolis business and individuals in the days leading to the bid.
"It wasn't said, but I think the fact that we could come here with $25 million worth of support took a lot of questions out of the equation," Miles said. "That has to have been helpful."
Irsay also acknowledged the contributions of former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, and Fred Glass, president of last spring's bid committee, as well as current Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
"It was difficult coming back and trying to compete against ourselves, because we had such a great bid (last year)," Irsay said. "In the end, we kept pressing our point. I knew we were going to have an outstanding Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
"This is something so big for our community. I know when we get back home, we're going to celebrate it. It's something really special for our community. Being partners with our community since 1984, we've seen it grow. We've seen Lucas Oil Stadium come on line and now the Super Bowl.
"We couldn't be happier. We're going to do a great job.
Eugene White, Superintendent of the Indianapolis Public School system, closed the city's presentation, emphasizing what Irsay and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell each said was a critical part of Indianapolis' bid – a $10 million practice facility at Tech High School that will be used by the NFL during the week leading to the Super Bowl, then by the high school thereafter.
"He closed our presentation by thanking the NFL and asking them to be our partner," Indianapolis bid committee Vice President Jack Swarbick said of White. "He asked them to be our partner in staging an extraordinary celebration of America's greatest game. He asked them to be our partner in building a legacy greater than any other Super Bowl ever has. That's what today's about.
"We are going to throw one heck of a party. It is going to be a great celebration – we think unlike any you've ever seen – because we will turn our city over to this event. As our governor once said in a bid, 'Come to our town and you'll own the joint.' The NFL will own the joint in 2012.
"But we'll leave behind something even greater. We'll leave behind a legacy of changed lives of the families and the kids on the Eastside of our community. As Doctor White said, 'It starts today by saying to them we value you so much that we made you a principal part of our bid.'''
Goodell, like Irsay, said the practice facility – a key component in the "legacy portion" of the bid – was among the bid's most noteworthy aspects.
"It's a facility that will be used by many generations of young people who play sports," Goodell said. "We like coming to new cities and we're looking forward to being in Indianapolis."
Said Irsay, "The legacy part of the Super Bowl bid was really important. There have been legacies (in other Super Bowl cities) of $1 or $2 million. This is a $10 million building. It's very significant in terms of the legacy and what it will mean to our urban kids and the aspect of them having a place to go and hang out and do all of those things.
"We can't wait to get to 2012. I just want to thank everyone for all the effort. It was tough not getting it done last year, but it's all worth it right now."